08/05/2009, 00.00
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More than 150,000 people bid farewell to Cory Aquino

by Santosh Digal
Under pouring rain a huge crowd followed the funeral cortege that brought the former president of the Philippines from Manila Cathedral to Memorial Park, for burial next to her husband. Mgr Villegas, who celebrated the service, noted her strong faith, which brought light to the country at its darkest hour.
Manila (AsiaNews) – More than 150,000 Filipinos braved the rain to bid a last farewell to former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino, 76, who was buried today in Manila’s Memorial Park, next to her husband, Benigno (Ninoy).

People of every age and social background escorted the former leader as her funeral cortege left Manila Cathedral where her funeral took place this morning.

A human chain was formed to hold back the crowd and allow the convoy to pass through Roxas Boulevard.

Mourners stood, waving their hands towards the coffin of Cory in the streets with umbrellas and raincoats.

Mgr Soc Villegas, bishop of Balanga, celebrated the funeral service along with hundreds of bishops, priests and nuns.

God has called you back home,” he said. “We will never meet a woman as great as you for a very long time. We will miss you,” he added.

Thank you for being our light during our darkest hours. Thank you for being our strength when we were afraid,” the bishop of Balanga also said.

In mentioning Cory Aquino’s deep faith, the prelate noted that she taught Filipinos “how to pray. Amid clashing voices and confusing noise, your prayer was a silent power.

Even at the worst of times, in her hospital fighting the disease that would eventually take her life, “you were still teaching us how to pray again.”

“There is darkness in our land because you are gone. But we know; we have enough light within us because you have shared with us your fire.”

Christine Soriano, a 45-year-old vegetable vendor, came to Manila with thousands of others, daring the rain to say “goodbye” to Corazon for what she did for the country, namely restore its democracy.

Joel Regella, 54 and a government employee, said that the sea of people, who gathered for the funeral, showed how much Filipinos loved Aquinos.

Kris Aquino-Yap, the former president’s youngest daughter, addressed the crowd on behalf of the family.

“You have given our family honour beyond anything we could ever have hoped,” she said. And this “no matter how great the sacrifices of my parents”..

Cory Aquino symbolises the peaceful struggle for democracy in the Philippines, a country marked by years of dictatorship under Ferdinand Marcos, and the assassination of her husband, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, on 21 August 1983.

After Marcos was removed from office in the “people power revolution”, she became president in 1986 for a six-year term.

During her time in office she resisted six attempted coups by the military and former Marcos’ cronies and was able to rehabilitate the country’s self-image.

She drafted the country’s new constitution, reformed its election process, released political dissidents and tried to engage insurgents in dialogue.  

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